Open Announce

Lobos Open 2023 Season in Louisiana

by Allison Weiss

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The 2023 Lobo Softball season and the Nicole Dickson era officially begins on the road this Thursday, the first of five games on the schedule on opening week.

New Mexico travels to Louisiana to face Nicholls on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT/ 4 p.m. MT before playing in the LSU Invitational Friday and Saturday with two games each day against No. 25/19 Oregon State and No. 20/25 LSU.

2:30 p.m. MT vs. Oregon State
5 p.m. MT at LSU (SEC Network+)
11 a.m. MT vs. Oregon State
4 p.m. MT at LSU (SEC Network+)

The Nicholls game will be available on ESPN+ and both LSU games will be on SEC Network+, but the Oregon State games will only have live stats available.

Historically, Thursday will be the fourth meeting all-time with the Colonels with the Lobos holding a 3-0 advantage, while the Lobos have only faced the Tigers one other time back in 2014. The Lobos are most familiar with the Beavers, having played them 17 times previously, most recently in the 2022 season opener in which the Lobos won 3-2 behind a complete game from Amber Linton.

There are a total of 11 newcomers on the 2023 roster, with eight freshmen and three transfers.

UNM added three pitchers, four outfielders, two catchers, one infielder and a pitcher who can also play infield.

Rachael Hathoot returns to the field after missing the 2022 season due to an injury, which is a major boost for the Lobo infield.

The Albuquerque native has started in 72 games for the Lobos and has tallied 53 hits and 88 total bases that includes 16 doubles, two triples and five home runs. Her career batting average is .244, with a .311 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage.

Poised to play shortstop, Hathoot has had 13 multiple hit games and nine multiple RBI games in her career.

From the time she was hired, Coach Dickson has repeatedly stated that success starts in the circle, and has backed that up by adding depth.

It will all start with returner Amber Linton, who pitched a team-high 156.2 innings last season with a team-high 27 starts.

Linton finished third in the MW last season in batters struck out with 156 and in batters struck out looking with 56. She finished with 10+ strikeouts in two games and five or more strikeouts in 14 games. She averaged 4.1 strikeouts per game.

Linton’s 6.97 strikeouts per game in 2022 was the single-season program record and her 156 strikeouts were the sixth-most in a single-season in program history.

In addition, the Lobos return Samantha Fohrman, who appeared in three games with two starts and 9.0 innings before her season ended due to injury.

The Lobos added two freshmen pitchers in Emmalyn Brinka and Bella Mitchell, a redshirt-sophomore transfer in Taylor Snow and a junior transfer in Jenna Trim.

In addition to having six pitchers, the Lobos are fully stocked at the catcher position with seven catchers.

Leslie Romero returns with the most time behind the plate last season, starting at catcher in 24 games. Savana Martinez and Janae Cameron each started in seven games with Aysiah Gonzalez starting in one game.

The Lobos added two freshmen catchers in Chloe Yeatts and Grace Rana.

The Lobos have to replace two key pieces in the outfield with the graduation of Andrea Howard and Taryn Young.

Howard started in all 53 games in 2022 and led the team at the plate with a .403 batting average, .531 on-base percentage and .875 slugging percentage, as well as led with 58 hits, 18 home runs, three triples, 57 RBI and 126 total bases. Howard held down center for the past four seasons, starting in 171 games.

Young started all 53 games in right last season and accounted for 57 total bases, 31 hits, seven home runs, 24 RBI and 57 total bases. Young started in 119 games during her Lobo career, all in right.

The Lobos return outfielder Peyton Robinson, who has played in 99 games with 98 starts in her two years at UNM and started all 53 games in left last season.

The Lobos opened the 2022 season with a a 3-2 victory against Oregon State.

In the circle, Amber Linton pitched a complete game, finishing with 10 strikeouts to just one walk in her first appearance as a Lobo. Of the 10 strikeouts, half came in the final nine outs, with three in the seventh as the Lobos held a one-run lead and the Beavers had two runners on.

Leslie Romero went 2-for-2 at the bottom of the lineup with one RBI, Andrea Howard and Reyan Tuck both went 1-for-3 with one RBI apiece.

The Lobos scored two runs in the bottom of the second and added a run in the fifth before OSU scored two runs in the sixth.

UNM is 3-0 all-time against Nicholls, although the last time the two teams met was in 1991.

The Colonels went 12-38 last season, 4-14 in the Southland Conference. Nicholls was 1-9 at home.

Nicholls returns its top-two hitters in Melise Gossen, a utility player who hit .285 with a team-best 41 hits and 15 doubles, and Alexa Poche’, a first baseman who had 38 hits, a team-high eight home runs, 68 total bases and .476 slugging percentage.

In the circle, Nicholls returns its top-two pitchers from last season in Paris Lehman and Brittney Turner. Lehman appeared in a team-high 37 appearances and a team-high 133.1 innings, and finished with a team-best 4.99 ERA. A RHP, Lehman allowed 184 hits, 122 runs (95 earned),with 52 strikeouts and 40 walks.

UNM has played LSU just once, a 4-2 loss back on Feb. 21, 2014.

The Tigers return four players who started all 57 games last season in Danieca Coffey, Ciara Briggs, Georgia Clark and Taylor Pleasants.

Coffey led LSU with 72 hits with Briggs behind her at 70 and Pleasants third with 52 hits. Clark (16) and Pleasants (12) were first and third, respectively, in home runs last season. Coffey also led with a .379 batting average with Briggs second at .368.

LSU finished fifth in the NCAA in doubles (94) and sixth in walks (230). Pleasants led with 15 doubles followed by Ali Newland at 12, and Clark led with 42 walks with Coffey third with 27 walks.

In the circle, LSU returns two of its main pitchers in Ali Kilponen and Raelin Chaffin. Both RHP, Kilponen pitched a team-high 171.1 innings with 22 starts and 33 appearances and Chaffin appeared in 14 games with 10 starts and threw 56.1 innings. Kilponen finished with an 18-9 record and a 2.29 ERA, while Chaffin went 6-2 with a 3.23 ERA. Emilee Casanova pitched 1.0 inning in one game.

LSU was picked to finish fifth in the preseason SEC poll.

UNM is 6-11 all-time against OSU, but 2-2 in the last four games. In the series, 7 have been 1-run games, with the Lobos 2-5 in those games.

Oregon State went 39-22 last season and advanced to the WCWS after winning the Knoxville Regional and sweeping Stanford in the Super Regionals.

The Beavers return their top overall hitter and home run hitter in Frankie Hammoude, who hit .384 with 15 home runs last season. In addition, Kiki Escobar returns after starting all 61 games and recording a team-high 74 hits in 2022.

OSU returns two pitchers from a season ago in Sarah Haendiges and Tarni Stepto, with Haendiges appearing in 36 games with 23 starts and pitched 10 complete games. A RHP, Haendiges carried a 1.68 ERA and pitched 141.2 innings with 133 strikeouts and 31 walks. In addition, she had three saves as a freshman. A RHP as well, Stepto threw 71.1 innings in 14 games with 12 starts and pitched seven complete games. Stepto struck out 96 to 18 walks and finished with a 2.55 ERA.

The Beavers were picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 preseason poll.

UNM’s first 10 games of the season are on the road, and the Lobos will have just 16 home games in 2023 starting with a doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield on Feb. 22.